*** DEBUG END ***

Missing in France

10 June 2016

IT IS perfectly possible to enjoy Ian Knox’s novel The Welcome Scream (CreateSpace, £8.99; 978-1-5052-3812-9) as a simple story with a happy ending, but if it has any deeper subtext, it is about the human need to know who you are and where you come from.

In the heady atmosphere of wartime London, Pierre, a member of de Gaulle’s Free French army, falls in love with an English girl before being sent on a mission to France. Terribly injured in a bomb blast, he eventually finds his way back to his family vineyard in Bordeaux with no memory of his past.

He marries his childhood sweetheart and has a child, but becomes increasingly troubled by the strange pictures in his head. His daughter, Petra Annette, insists on being known as Annie. She feels from her earliest childhood that Petra belongs to someone else.

Meanwhile, his English wife raises their son to revere the memory of his hero father. His idyllic 1950s childhood, complete with apple pie, The Archers, and summers at the seaside, is so vividly described that it must be the author’s own. After her death, Peter, now a very English solicitor, sets out to find his father’s family.

Knox is best known for his books Bereaved and Older People and the Church. This is his first sally into fiction, and he is not yet quite at ease with the genre. The prose is clunking. Every noun must have its adjective, usually a cliché. Hands are capable, sums are generous. None the less, his first-hand knowledge of France and Africa and his evident passion for rivers enable him to create convincing backdrops, and the plotting is so inventive that you forget the prose in the scramble to turn the page and find out what happens next. We look forward to his next one.


Fiona Hook is a writer and EFL teacher.

Church Times Bookshop

Save money on books reviewed or featured in the Church Times. To get your reader discount:

> Click on the “Church Times Bookshop” link at the end of the review.

> Call 0845 017 6965 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm).

The reader discount is valid for two months after the review publication date. E&OE

Forthcoming Events

6-7 September 2022
Preaching as Pilgrimage conference
From the College of Preachers.

26 September 2022
What am I living for? God
Sam Wells and Lucy Winkett begin the St Martin-in-the-Fields autumn lecture series in partnership with Church Times.

27-28 September 2022
humbler church Bigger God conference
The HeartEdge Conference in Manchester includes the Theology Slam Live Final.

More events

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)